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Daytona Beach is one of America's favorite coastal destinations. Every year, over 9 million visitors head to the town's many attractions, seeking adrenaline rushes, sunshine, and family activities, and nobody leaves disappointed.
If you have any interest at all in NASCAR, Daytona is somewhere you just have to visit. Head to the Motorsports Hall of Fame before taking your seat in the bleachers for the Daytona 500 at the International Speedway.
If you don't have a burning passion for motorsports, Daytona Beach is also one of the finest beach resorts in the USA. There's enough beach space to accommodate millions of sunbathers, every kind of watersport you could imagine and a promenade packed with great bars and restaurants like the Oyster Pub and Caribbean Jack's.
Bundle in the fact that Daytona is within an hour of Universal Studios and Disneyworld, and you've got a superb family destination. So pack your beach towel and get ready for a treat during your next Florida getaway.
Daytona Beach is one of the world's great motorsports centers. Every year, 160,000 people or more cram into the International Speedway to watch the Daytona 500, and the track constantly hosts other major contests, so if you love cars, it's a great place to visit.
Daytona is also famous for its long seafront promenade. Miles of sand stretches along the town's sand island, with attractions and restaurants all along the length of the Daytona Beach Boardwalk. If you want to snorkel, swim, sunbathe or play beach volleyball, there's no better venue.
Daytona Beach is an appealing destination on its own, but it is made even more attractive by being an hour away from Orlando. Just drive down I-4; you'll be at Disney World or Universal Studios in no time.
The climate is undeniably another of Daytona Beach's attractions. The resort enjoys 230 days of sunshine every year and with an average high of 69 degrees, almost every week brings sunbathing conditions.
There are also more sophisticated attractions in Daytona than NASCAR and the beach. Head to the Museum of Arts and Sciences with its collection of Cuban art and Coca-Cola memorabilia, or visit the Southeast Museum of Photography, which hosts works by photographers like Alfred Stieglitz and Gordon Parks. Both are cultural delights.
One of the most famous raceways in the world, Daytona International Speedway hosts NASCAR events and other motorsports contests throughout the year, but the two Speedweeks in February are easily the best time to visit for adrenaline junkies. Watch your favorite drivers fight it out in the Daytona 500, which concludes two weeks of high-octane competition.
Aside from the Speedway, the beach is Daytona's other major attraction. You can catch live music events at the Art Deco bandshell, swim in beachside lagoon pools, join beach parties (particularly during the city's lively Spring Break) or just laze around on the sand as much as you like.
Daytona is full of family attractions. If the weather is hot and you need to cool off, none of them are more appealing than Daytona Lagoon, complete with masses of pools, lazy rivers and slides. But there are also thrills to be had by racing karts at Speed Park Motorsports or trying the rides at the Boardwalk Amusements.
Daytona Beach also has a special place in baseball history, thanks to the managers of City Island Ballpark, who allowed Jackie Robinson to train there in 1946, a crucial event in breaking the color barrier in America's national game. Nowadays, you can watch the Tortugas in action and savor a slice of American history.
It's not all about motor racing and beaches in Daytona. You can also feed your mind at museums like the Museum of Arts and Science, the Southeast Museum of Photography and Halifax Historical Museum. So if there's a rainy day or you fancy something more intellectual, there are plenty of attractions to enjoy.
When you go to Daytona depends on what you intend to see or do there. For instance, if you just want to watch NASCAR, visiting for the Speedweeks in February makes sense. For Spring Break parties, a visit in early March will be ideal. But for most families, avoiding the crowds with an April or May visit will work better. Summer can be humid and too hot for some visitors, but with water parks and the ocean on hand to cool off in, it can also be a great time to visit. Festive breaks at Christmas are another popular option, with regular sunshine and temperatures in the 60s and 70s.
Daytona Beach International Airport is served by US Airways and Delta, so there may well be a connection from an airport near you. If you fly into Daytona, the airport is centrally located. The cheapest way into town is via the number 18 or 19 buses run by VOTRAN, which costs $1.75.
Daytona doesn't have its own Amtrak station, but is served by an Amtrak AutoTrain service from Lorton, Virginia which runs to Orlando's Sanford station. Although it's slower than flying, the AutoTrain can be a cheaper route to Daytona, particularly if you are coming from the Washington DC area.
Anyone driving to Daytona Beach from the north can take I-95, which links the city with all major Eastern Seaboard urban areas. I-4 is the road to take if you are driving from other parts of Florida.
Greyhound is the major intercity bus operator in Daytona Beach, and they have their local bus station at 138 S Ridgewood Avenue. If you are traveling from other parts of the USA, you'll probably have to transfer from Orlando or Jacksonville to the Daytona bus.
Where you choose to stay in Daytona Beach depends on why you are visiting. If you are there for an event at the Speedway, hotels near the venue like the Best Western International Speedway or the Days Inn provide comfortable, convenient accommodation. However, if the beach is the main attraction, hotels like the Courtyard Daytona Beach or Harbor Beach Resort will be more suitable. They are all excellent, large family hotels, but for a more intimate vacation, you could try Coquina Inn B&B or River Lily Inn - both of which offer family-run lodging and excellent breakfasts.
The Speedway – Hundreds of thousands of motorsports fans flock to Daytona's International Speedway for events all year round (but even more during Daytona's Speedweeks, held in February). The Speedway itself is located a few miles inland, near the airport, and is surrounded by family attractions like Go-Karts and the Daytona 500 Experience. If you're a racing fan, there's hardly any reason to go anywhere else.
Downtown Daytona Beach – If you want to be close to attractions like the Museum of Arts and Sciences, the Veterans Museum and the Daytona Tortugas stadium, Downtown Daytona is the place to stay. It's a good base to head to the speedway or nearby beaches, but doesn't have a beach of its own. For that, you'll have to head across to the island.
Marine Terrace – Daytona Beach itself is located on a narrow spit of land facing onto the Atlantic Ocean. There are various neighborhoods along Atlantic Avenue, where most of the leading seafront hotels can be found, including Marine Terrace, which may have the best stretch of sand in the resort.
Daytona's public transit system is run by VOTRAN (the Volusia County bus service), which offers an excellent way to travel up and down the seafront. If you intend to do some beach hopping, a $3 day pass represents excellent value.
There's no shortage of taxi companies in Daytona Beach, with some of the most reliable including Yellow Cab, All Florida Cab and Daytona Limos (for a slightly more upmarket service). Typical rates are around $2.20 for the meter drop and first tenth of a mile, then $2 for every mile after that. Uber is also active in Daytona, and charge a basic meter drop of $1.50, then $1.15 per mile, with a minimum fare of $5.85.
In a city so dedicated to automobiles, it seems strange not to have a car, and you'll find rental outlets like Thrifty, Enterprise and Avis in the area. The city is very easy to navigate. Atlantic Avenue will get you to all parts of the beach, while International Speedway Boulevard runs to the racetrack (both roads can become congested with traffic though, so check updates to avoid being stuck).
Daytona Beach is a great place to shop, and its retail scene is centered around a number of large malls. At Bellair Plaza, you'll find midrange stores like Publix and Walgreens. For a more upmarket retail experience, head to Riverfront Marketplace, which features independent stores like Carousel Antiques and Amaya's Boutique. However, for a more unusual shopping experience, head to the Daytona Beach Flea Market on Bellevue Ave, where you could find anything.
If you need to shop for groceries, Daytona has a large number of Publix supermarkets, along with Aldi, Winn-Dixie and a Walmart Supercenter, so finding food and drink shouldn't be a problem. However, grocery prices are relatively high, with a gallon of milk costing $4 and 12 eggs costing $2.70.
If you need to eat out in Daytona Beach, you'll always have plenty of choice as the whole world is represented. From the fine Indian dining at Neelam, to the Japanese delicacies at Sapporo Japanese Steakhouse, there are plenty of Asian cuisine options, but the real star in Daytona is Italian food. Restaurants like Rossellini's, Anna's Trattoria and Carrabas cook authentic meatballs, pizza and pasta, often featuring freshly caught Florida seafood.